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Visit by Senate of the Philippines reinforces the need for collaboration

BGIPU had the honour of hosting a delegation from the Senate of the Philippines from 17 to 18 October 2023. The delegation included President of the Senate of the Philippines Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Grace Poe and Senator Bong Go as well as senior Senate officials.

The delegation began their visit with a meeting with former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP. They discussed a wide range of topics, highlighting the importance of collaboration and what each country could learn from one another. A particular focus of discussion was the National Security and Investment Act 2021, in which Mr Kwarteng had played an instrumental role, with the delegation keen to establish what lessons could be learned from this bill and how these lessons could translate into legislation in the Philippines. Up next was a meeting with Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP where the discussion focused on the mutual commitment of both countries to upholding democratic principles and the excellent state of bilateral relations, including the major contribution Filipino workers make to key UK institutions, particularly the NHS. The morning was rounded off by a constructive working lunch in the House of Lords hosted by Baroness Hooper.

The afternoon began with a meeting with representatives of the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, represented by the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP and Katherine Fletcher MP. Discussion focused heavily on issues relating to energy security and the importance of staying aware of the  ownership of energy production and transmission assets. Following this came the meeting with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Philippines. This meeting was chaired by Rob Roberts MP, who is also the chair of the APPG for the Philippines, and attended by Daniel Kawczynski MP. This meeting comprised of a broader discussion on how the UK and Philippines can continue to develop and strengthen the already important bond between the two nations. More specifically, the Members agreed that re-opening the direct flight route between London and Manilla was an important next step in the continuation of positive bilateral relations between the UK and Philippines and agreed that efforts would be made to achieve this. Discussions also focussed on military cooperation between the countries, with an eye on the ever-growing presence of China in the South-East Asia region.

Wednesday morning arrived with another busy day of meetings for the delegates. Firstly, a meeting with the Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Alicia Kearns MP. A key focus of discussions was again the looming threat of China in the region.  Following on from this meeting the delegation were invited to observe a lively session of Prime Ministers Questions from the House of Commons gallery.  The morning ended with a working lunch in the IPU Room hosted by BGIPU Chair, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP.

After the productive working lunch the delegation were escorted to Portcullis House for a meeting with the chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP. Discussion topics included human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines, with Members agreeing that greater cooperation was needed to combat this issue. Finally, the delegation was escorted to the House of Lords for a private meeting with the Lord Speaker.

Overall, the visit by representatives of the Philippine Senate helped to develop and encourage the already significant ties between the two nations and BGIPU looks forward to further bilateral engagement.

BGIPU Secretariat